On May 12, a new Tesla Model S nearly crashed into equipment in connection with roadworks along the Pacific Coastal Highway in Newport Beach, according to Reuters, which first noted the case. The accident resulted in the death of three passengers in the car and the injury of three road workers.
The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) suspects that the car’s self-driving system, which Tesla calls autopilot, was in use. Therefore, an investigation was launched to find out more about the cause of the accident.
35 Tesla crash
In total, the NHTSA has conducted 35 investigations into Tesla car accidents since 2016. In these accidents, 14 people were killed, including the last 3.
In only three incidents, authorities ruled out activating the autopilot system.
Also in April, NHTSA announced that it had begun an accident investigation into a 2016 Tesla Model X. In that accident, no one was killed.
Among other incidents being investigated is one that occurred in August last year, in which a Tesla car collided with a police car parked along the highway.
Nobody is behind the wheel
After an accident in Harris County, Texas, in April last year, police said witnesses said there was no driver behind the wheel of the vehicle – a Tesla Model S – when it crashed into a tree, killing two. Tesla claims the car’s autopilot was not activated at the time, but police are investigating the issue.
Tesla was just beginning to market its cars as self-driving. As early as 2016, Tesla marketed the car’s autopilot functionality and self-driving features through a video on its website.
“work by myself”
The Model S seems to drive alone both in town and on the road. The text states, “The person behind the wheel sits there just because the law requires it. He does nothing. The car drives itself.”
The investigations conducted by the US authorities include Model S, X, Y and 3 – in other words, all Tesla cars. They want to know if the technology and systems used by Tesla’s autopilot are working well enough.
There are no self-driving cars
Tesla has not commented on this to Reuters now, but the factory has watered down claims that the cars are completely self-driving. Tesla now says on its website that autopilot enables the car to automatically accelerate, brake and steer, but “doesn’t make the car self-driving and requires the driver to constantly monitor driving.”
A NHTSA spokesperson comments on this as follows:
NHTSA would like to remind the public that today no cars are capable of driving themselves. All cars you can buy require the driver to be in control at all times. All laws hold the driver responsible for what happens when the vehicle is on the road.
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